World Football: How Will Goal-Line Technology Work?

James Walker@@JamesWalker90Analyst IJuly 5, 2012

BLOEMFONTEIN, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 27:  Manuel Neuer of Germany watches the ball bounce over the line from a shot that hit the crossbar from Frank Lampard of England, but referee Jorge Larrionda judges the ball did not cross the line during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Round of Sixteen match between Germany and England at Free State Stadium on June 27, 2010 in Bloemfontein, South Africa.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

UEFA may be against it, but goal-line technology has been approved by the International Football Association Board.

It is a decision that will no doubt leave Michel Platini wallowing in his bigoted sense of righteousness. The president of UEFA has long been against any form of technology being implemented during football matches:

 “I’m against technology itself because then it’s just going to invade every single area of football,” the Frenchman claimed, as reported by the Washington Post.

Despite Platini’s opposition, the gift of hindsight was not essential to foresee this decision. Following England’s victory over Ukraine the president of FIFA described goal line technology as a “necessity.”

Of course anything that benefits England and the FA, in even the slightest of ways, must be amended.

But politics aside, what can football fans expect to see from the IFAB’s decision?

Use of the technology is not mandatory for any domestic governing body to adopt. For that reason it is not likely that the new Premier League season will be kicking off with the new officiating equipment.

The technology has however been given the go-ahead to be trialled at the 2012 Club World Cup. Expect things to change after this tournament. If the technology is proven to be a success, it will be hard for football associations to deny their members access to the review systems.

So how will the goal-line technology work?

Two different types of goal line technology have been approved by FIFA; Hawk-Eye and GoalRef.

Despite the name, Hawk-Eye does not operate in the same vein that has been so successful in tennis and cricket. Players will not have a say in using it; there will be no challenge system.

Instead an encrypted radio signal will be sent to the referee’s wristwatch when a goal has been scored.

The process will take less than 0.5 seconds to complete and be reliant upon six cameras, focusing on each goal, to track the ball. The signal will use a triangulation method to pinpoint the precise location of the ball before releasing a radio message.

The system has already been sampled in England. It was pioneered in the Hampshire Senior Cup final between Eastleigh FC and AFC Totton, and by the FA in England’s international encounter with Belgium three weeks later.

GoalRef is, on paper at least, a much more simple idea.

It will be dependent upon a microchip implanted in the ball, accompanied by low magnetic waves around the goal.

The system will detect any change in the magnetic field on or behind the goal line to assess whether a goal has been scored.

Like Hawk-Eye, the process will take less than a second.

The major concern with goal line technology was that it will slow down the pace of the game. The third umpire decision used in cricket and video ref in rugby are clearly not compatible with the free-flowing nature of football.

Neither is the system used in tennis.

But, the two systems advocated work in an entirely different fashion. Both require less than a second to generate a response that is much more accurate than human judgement and both leave the final decision in the hands of the match officials.

Complaints from fans that it will deny them something to talk about in the pub is obsolete and irrelevant. Football’s governing body has a duty of care to ensure that teams receive the fairest and highest quality of officiating.

The decision passed today by the IFAB has to be viewed as a major step forward in football’s desperate attempt to catch up with the officiating standards of rival sports.